The Dry Garden: Wet policy for a dry year

Posted on | August 20, 2010 | No Comments

Source: NOAA. Click on the maps to be taken to composite graphics of precipitation trends during La Niña years.

We’ve been getting mixed messages about whether or not we need to conserve water. On one hand, we had a decent local rain year. Last week, the state legislature pulled a water bond from the November ballot that would have driven state-wide conservation. This week, the Los Angeles City Council amended the two-day lawn sprinkler ordinance to a three-day version.

Crisis over?

Not by a long shot. Local rain doesn’t fill our pipes. Of the three main sources that do, Lake Mead, the Colorado River storage reservoir serving Southern California, shrank in July to its lowest level since 1956. Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board concluded that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is overdrawn by 50%. Southern California could do its part to fix that by reducing water use from there by 30%, but more likely we will keep over-drafting the system until courts order stoppages because of impacts to fisheries.

As if things weren’t dicey enough, in early August the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration strengthened its La Niña advisory, a weather cycle that augurs drought for Southern California and two of its three main water sources, Owens Valley and the Colorado River.

Click here to keep reading The Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times.

Chance of Rain adds: For more information on La Niña weather systems, go to NOAA’s information page and to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

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